A walk along the canal

When lockdown started way back in March, I was determined to keep exercising and also to keep working towards my 1000 miles challenge target so, as we were allowed out for local walks, I started going out for a wander locally – mainly in the Plantations. Although we’ve been let off the leash now (well, until we have another lockdown which is beginning to look more likely) I still try to get out for a local walk several times a week. In that spirit, the other Saturday I had to go into Wigan town centre to post a parcel and so decided to walk back home via a long route along the Leeds Liverpool canal towpath.

I walked through town, past the train stations on Wallgate and down past Trencherfield Mill to Wigan Pier where I joined the footpath.

Wigan Pier, made famous by George Formby Senior and then George Orwell is a section of the canal, lined with warehouses, where coal used to be loaded onto barges. The area became a tourist attraction back in the 1980’s, centred on The Way We Were Heritage centre and the Orwell pub, but these closed some years ago. However the district is currently being renovated and repurposed.

Renovated buildings at Wigan Pier

I went under the bridge following the footpath in the direction of Leeds – quite a few miles away!

There were several narrowboats moored up on banks.

I passed the old lock keeper’s cottage behind Trencherfield MIll

at Bottom Lock, the start of the Wigan flight of 23 locks which lift the canal up 214 feet over about two and a half miles.

I saw several narrowboats making their way through the locks on my way up the tow path

At one time the baknks of the canal would have been lined with industry. Today there’s some light industry close tot he banks between the town centre and Lower Ince, along with some derelict buildings and waste land.

reaching Lower Ince I passed this tower on the other bank

It looks like some sort of ventilation tower, possibly above an old mine shaft, or it may have been to ventilate an engine of some sort. I’ve never been able to find out exactly what it was for.

After Lower Ince the canal takes on a more rural aspect, even though it’s still running close to residential areas on both sides. No sign of industry until nearer to the Top Lock at New Springs.

But I wasn’t going quite that far. I turned off the canal bank on to the footpath that follows the route of the old Whelley Loop Line. This is the point where I left the canal.

It looks peaceful and rural now but in the past it was the site of the Kirkless Colliery and Iron and Steel Works.

The old railway line has been tarmaced over and converted into a footpath and cycle route.

I walked as far as the site of the former Whelley Station where I climbed the steps up onto Whelley and made my way to the nearby Greenalgh’s bakery shop to pick up some pies for dinner (that’s the midday meal around here, buy the way!)

Yes, there’s a good reason why Wiganers are known as “Pie eaters”!

A walk to Worthington Lakes

Although we live close to the centre of talk, a short stroll down the hill and we’re by the side of the river and can walk for miles away from roads and traffic through woodland, along the canal and through the countryside. So, last Sunday, on a sunny afternoon, we decided to walk to Worthington Lakes. It’s about 9 miles there and back, but an easy walk.

Down to the Dougie


following the path through woodland


Through the Plantations


Then along the canal


Narrow boats at the Red Rock moorings



Winter Hill visible now across the fields


Canal side sheds


Carrying on along the canal



We cut across the Golf course, past Arley Hall


and took the path across the greens (keeping an eye out for flying golf balls!)


and into Arley Woods



Lots of bluebells in bloom

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We crossed over the Dougie


and then emerged alongside Worthington Lakes



a chain of three small reservoirs built in the 1860’s to supply Wigan with drinking water.

We did a complete circuit of the lakes


Stopping part way round for a brew at KIlhey Court Hotel





Back through Arley Woods


and on to the canal towpath, this time avoiding the golf course


We retraced our route back along the canal



and through the Plantations back home.